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Feeling responsible for my clients heroin overdose and death
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Feeling responsible for my clients heroin overdose and death

Im freaking out and I don't know how to handle these emotions sober- or at all. I have a client who came and saw me on saturday and ended up telling me about her struggle with sobriety and heroin use. Telling me stories about how she had died 3 times since 17 and re lapsed again a few weeks ago (I had seen her then but thought she was just high on weed). I didn't know until saturday that she had a heroin problem. I'm a massage therapist and so I listen to a lot of people's problems and give them the best advice I can. I could relate to her problem as I've only been sober for a week from norocs. I found myself telling her stories about how I realized I had a problem, and some experiences on drugs that made me realize it wasn't ok to live like that, etc. Her best friend who made her start coming to see me to handle her pain instead of self medicating has moved away for school in the past couple weeks- called me to tell me she died of an overdose.

I can't help but feel responsible. I know that everyone has an intrensique responsibility for their own lives but I found myself craving pills all day after talking to her- I feel like the conversation did the same thing for her and now that's why she's dead. I saw her romatisizing her past heroin usage and I feel like I didn't do anything to stop it or change those feelings. I just feel like I could have done something more, said something better, or missed an opportunity to help. I feel responsible.
6 Comments Post a Comment
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1269044_tn?1393193503
I'm so sorry you are dealing with this. Please do not feel responsible!  There is nothing you can do to control other people's actions.

I had a neighbor die right before I quit a few months ago from an overdose. I spoke to him a few days beforecause he was trying to bum some money and a tent from me. His gf just kicked him out for not getting it together for the hundreth time. I felt guilty too but soon realized he would of done it eventually most likely.

Stay strong. Talk to people. I'm here fir you as well as the rest of the community.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi. Wow when you wrote "client" I thought you were a therapist, and she saw you for drug counseling. Then maybe MAYBE your guilt could be a tad understandable. But you are a massage therapist and a VERY newly sober addict yourself. You know better than anyone that NO ONE, but no one can make another person do or not do anything. You know this. What kind of "power" do you think you have over addiction?  Don't know if you go to meetings but the first step is "I am powerless over (insert drug of choice) and my life has become unmanageable." That means ANYONE'S addiction not just your own.

This may sound a bit harsh but addicts have a tendency to be narcisstistic, we think we have so much influence over someone else by just a conversation or a word. This is what you are doing. Your friend was going to do what she was going to do. It has NOTHING to do w/ you. One person does not have that kind of power or influence over another and especially not over addiction. Maybe you are going here instead of feeling what's under it: grief. And fear. Fear that it could happen to you. It's scary.

I am sorry about your friend, it's tragic. It's also the reality of severe addiction and it bites. See if you can get support for yourself. I think it's important.
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5527883_tn?1392590411
Not your fault. I may sound heartless, but you had a job you were doing. A) you were not responsible for her mental health or drug issues. B) You gave her your opinion on the matter, and being as heavy into it as she was, you weren't changing her mind.

People die everyday, and we may encounter them before it happens, and then feel "if only I had said/done____ then they would have not bee killed by ______" ...it's not your fault. It isn't okay that she died, but it's not your fault. It's really her fault. Some people consider this life a "disease" but to me that's BS! You don't CHOOSE a disease (please don't anyone start semantics with me) 97% of us did drugs AFTER we heard how it'd ruin our life, and still did it by choice. I say 97% because I realize there are special exceptions.

Feel bad, DON'T feel guilty.
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5347058_tn?1381192026
It is a very normal reaction to question, or second guess ourselves when we lose someone, especially to something like this. You were there for her, and lent an ear when she needed to talk. There was nothing else that you could have done to change things. Unfortunately this is one outcome to addiction..death. Please don't beat yourself up over this. It is very sad, and I'm sure upsetting. You need to focus on your recovery, and do everything that you can to stay on track. There is no greater way to honor her memory then to stay clean and sober. Do what she was unable to do. Take care of yourself, and hang in there.
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Avatar_m_tn
"I found myself telling her stories about how I realized I had a problem, and that it was not okay to go on living like this, etc..." that sounds like you are discouraging drug use. You did not give her drugs. It is not your problem nor fault. Perhaps this guilt is from your desire to be clean and live a life you ARE okay with. You are a week off norco? That's a good start, but not a good place to be a therapist. Stay clean, heal yourself, and you will come to see it was not your doing nor lack of doing. Being and staying sober is a lot of work and we learn to own our actions. You did nothing wrong to that person, I feel you let yourself down more than anything. Do you go to meetings or see an addiction counselor? I think it would help. I'm really sorry for your lose, but you are not at fault.
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5621112_tn?1371379161
I have agree with Weaver71. You are very newly clean yourself. You did what you should do though, you shared your experience, strength, and hope with another addict.  Most of us here are NOT therapists or drs. So we share what we have, our own experience, and that is what another addict can relate to. Focus now not on what "could have been", rather what "is". You are clean today and that is AMAZING. Focus on that, and the longer you stay that way, the more experience strength and hope you will have to share the next time someone needs to talk. Stay strong, your presence and postings here are proof that it can be done, you can get and stay clean.
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